For many people, having children is the greatest accomplishment that they could ever achieve. A lot of people spend the first portion of their lives thinking about the day when a little human will call them “Mom” or “Dad.” Unfortunately, having a baby isn’t so simple for some people. For some, it’s impossible for them to achieve their dream.
There are many reasons why people can’t have children. For those who wish to become a parent, having issues like infertility or other medical problems can be devastating. This couple’s struggle to have a child led them to meet one of the most incredible little humans in the world.
Their day in court had finally arrived. After an entire year of working hard to prove themselves as worthy parents, the Palmers would now find out the fate of their family. It was a moment full of emotions for Mandi and Tyler, the tension only broke once the judge issued his final verdict. But before anyone could process what had just happened, an unexpected word shouted by a toddler left the entire courtroom in silence.
It can be extremely nervewracking to prove to someone that you’re good enough to be a parent, especially if that person is a judge. You not only have to prove that you can financially prove that you’re able to take care of a child, but you also need to prove that you can emotionally and mentally provide for them as well.
It can be particularly exhausting and mentally draining to become a parent when you’ve spent years trying to conceive a child on your own. All this couple wanted was a chance to be the best parents that they could be, but the universe had other plans for them.
In 2010, Tyler Palmer signed up with the 101st airborne division of the United States Army. He didn’t have much time to adjust to his new life after enlisting, because just twenty days after finishing basic training, he was sent on his first tour to Afghanistan. Though he was lucky to come home safe and sound, the stress of war had taken a toll on his emotional and mental well-being. Fortunately for him, love was about to knock on his door.
Making the decision to fight for your country is undeniably one of the bravest things a person can do. But it also comes with a high cost. Men and women that enlist in the military are making the decision to endure extremely difficult circumstances.
When you enlist in the military, there’s a large chance that you’re going to be deployed. People who find themselves fighting for their lives don’t come back the same. In fact, approximately 20% of the men in women who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from extreme PTSD and/or depression. And sadly enough, many of them won’t receive the help that they need, but on the other hand, some of them find exactly what they need to be well again.
Tyler met Mandi in 2013, right before he was sent on his second deployment to the Middle East. Mandi had health issues of her own, making them kindred souls. Yet they didn’t let that get in the way of their search for happiness. “We knew it would be hard, but we also knew it would strengthen our relationship in ways most people could never understand,” Mandi told Love What Matters. And, sure enough, they seemed to be on their way to happily ever after. But the obstacles wouldn’t stop coming.
Many people that serve in the military report that they feel “broken” after. They feel like nothing will ever take away the nightmares and depression. But Mandi and Tyler’s story just goes to prove that light is able to drive out the demons of darkness.
When you meet the person who drives out the darkness within you, you want them to be a part of your life forever. They become a drug to you. No matter how often you feel like you’re drowning, they’ll be there to help bring you back to the surface for air. This is exactly how Tyler and Mandi felt about each other.
“He was deployed for nine months, and one month after he got home, he proposed and we got married a few weeks later,” Mandi said. It was then that Tyler decided to quit the army and begin a new life with his wife, one that they both agreed would include starting a family of their own. “We both knew we wanted our own family so greatly but didn’t know what God had planned for us,” Mandi said. But given her health issues, trying to conceive became an exercise in frustration and disappointment.
As most of you know, a child can only be conceived under flawless conditions. When speaking in terms of biology, everything has to sync up perfectly. Unfortunately, no matter how much a couple wishes to have a baby, some just aren’t able to do this, and the results of this can be heartbreaking.
For couples that want a baby, every negative pregnancy test, monthly period, and questions from outsiders about when you’re going to have a baby are like sharp stabs to the stomach. They would do anything to conceive a child, and the fact that it’s just not happening is unbearable.
“We tried for years to get pregnant but soon came to realize that it wasn’t going to happen, nor would it be safe for my body to sustain the miracle of pregnancy due to my illness,” Mandi said. They were heartbroken but didn’t intend to give up. The couple started looking at their options and concluded adoption was the way to go. But first, they had to prove they could take care of a child for the long term. Given their health battles, this would not be easy.
Luckily, there are many options for couples that aren’t able to conceive a child naturally. One of the greatest options is by far adoption. Adoption allows couples to become parents while giving children in need the loving home that they deserve.
Currently, there are 400,000 children in the foster care system in the United States. A little over 100,000 of those children are eligible for adoption. That means that 100,000 children in this country need a safe home with loving parents. Mandi and Tyler knew that they were willing and able to provide that for a child. Would the system agree?
It was right about that time Mandi and Tyler noticed that their local authority was calling out for foster parents. Day after day, they kept hearing the commercials asking for people to take the training and become licensed foster parents, given the great need they always have for qualified families. The young couple took it as a sign of God’s plan. They signed up for the program right away, not knowing how hard it would be to get approved as suitable parents.
Signing up to become a foster parent is a huge decision. Typically, children that are in the foster system come with a lot of baggage. They’ve been abused, starved, and neglected. Many of them are emotionally broken and require special care that can only be provided by loving, compassionate, and patient adults.
Tyler and Mandi knew that they were able to provide the love that was needed, so they decided to take a leap. They followed the signs that were in front of them and made the call that would change their lives forever.
It took months of rigorous training and paperwork to become licensed as foster-to-adopt parents. “The same week that we were licensed, we also received our first phone call to pick up our baby boy, Hunter,” Mandi said. At the time, Hunter was a little over a week old and in need of a loving home. Of course, Mandi and Tyler were overjoyed to take the infant in. But it remained to be seen if they’d be able to keep him for good.
Becoming certified to legally foster or adopt a child is an exhausting process. Potential foster parents must pass extensive background checks. They must also endure personal questions during a home check. And not to mention, all of the paperwork that needs to be completed. Needless to say, only the most qualified people are able to take a child into their home.
Once Mandi and Tyler passed all of the tests, they were ready for the responsibility of taking care of a child on their own. Who would’ve thought it would happen so quickly? Were they making the right decision? Would they be able to meet all of the child’s daily requirements? Only time would tell.
“Talk about a whirlwind of emotions!” Mandi said. “We quickly ran to Target and purchased the necessities (car seat, clothes, baby blankets, diapers, food, etc.) we needed to bring our baby home. We arrived at children’s services and there was Hunter, all bundled up in a receiving blanket, and he was being held by our caseworker. He was eight days old and absolutely perfect. We fell in love with him instantly.” But the system wasn’t going to make it easy for them.
When you have a baby naturally, you’re given nine months to emotionally, physically, and mentally prepare for bringing home a child. A foster parent isn’t afforded that time. As soon as Mandi and Tyler received the call that Hunter was waiting for them, they had to stuff nine months into an afternoon.
When Mandi and Tyler received the phone call asking if they could foster Hunter, they immediately jumped to action. After they rushed around getting the necessary items, they saw Hunter for the first time.
Would they be able to properly take care of him? Would they feel like Hunter’s real parents? Would their hearts be broken if he was taken away? Time would prove that there was an uphill battle waiting ahead for this loving couple. But this was a battle that they planned on winning.
There is a certain amount of risk involved in fostering in that the child could eventually go to another family, which would be devastating for everyone involved. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened a few months down the line — they faced the prospect of losing Hunter to another adoptive family. But as we know, Mandi and Tyler are willing to fight for what they love, and this situation was no exception. They embarked on a lengthy battle to officially adopt Hunter.
Imagine bringing home your baby only find out later that you might have to give him or her to another family. Biological parents don’t have to worry about this happening to them, but for foster parents, this is a very real possibility.
Imagine putting your time, effort, and love into raising a little human, and then finding out that the child you were raising as your own, was going to another home. It would break your heart into a million little pieces. This is exactly what Mandi and Tyler were going through.
“Over the next 16 months we went through the crazy roller coaster ride of fostering,” Mandi said. “Our prayers were finally being answered! Our adoption worker worked so hard to get paperwork finalized so that Christmas of 2017 would be our best yet.” Their court date was set for December 18, 2017 — the day they’d get to finalize Hunter’s adoption. They were bursting with anticipation.
Biological parents don’t typically need to prove themselves fit to be parents in front of a judge. Sadly, even though adoptive parents love their children just as much, if not more than biological parents, they have to continuously prove that they’re able to take care of them properly.
Mandi and Tyler were up to the challenge, though. They knew that they were meant to be Hunter’s parents, so they did everything that they were asked to do by the court. Would they pass all of the tests? Would they properly jump through the hoops? And ultimately, would they be able to call Hunter their own forever?
For both Mandi and Tyler, this was more than just becoming parents in the traditional sense. This little boy — although only 17 months old at the time — had given them even more reason to continue to fight the good fight. “He was our ‘medicine’ and both of our reasons to fight the health battles that we have been given,” Mandi said. “He truly became our ‘why’ in life.” So you can only imagine how emotional it was that day in court…
If you’re a parent, then you understand how having a child could complete someone’s life. Before having children, a lot of people feel lost, trying to find their purpose in life. And then they have a baby, and their purpose is finally known.
Now, don’t get us wrong. Having children is most certainly not the only purpose people have. But for some, being a parent is the only thing that they’ve ever wanted, and once they’re holding their child in their arms, everything in their world finally falls into place.
We imagine that’s exactly how Mandi and Tyler felt. Once Hunter was in their arms, their lives became complete. But having to fight to keep everything together made things a lot more complicated. Would they finally be able to have the family that they wanted?
The family put on their best clothes and headed to the courthouse to make it official. Even though they already felt like a family, having the paperwork and legal grounds to stand on was what they had all been waiting for. “It was very emotional, in a good way. We had all of our family and friends there,” Mandi said. “At the end of the court process, the judge announced Hunter’s new legal name.” And that’s when Hunter himself chimed in.
Putting all of your attention and love into a child is simple to do. Sadly, that’s not all that it takes to become an adoptive parent. Mandi and Tyler spent an incredible amount of time with Hunter and looked at him as their own, but that didn’t matter in the eyes of the court.
They had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they would always do their best to love and provide for Hunter. Luckily, the judge could clearly see that their love for Hunter was true. Thanks to his decision, Mandi and Tyler were able to truly say that Hunter was theirs. But how did Hunter feel about the judge’s decision?
“And they read the adoption decree and that’s when Hunter looked at my husband and he said, ‘Dad!’ and clapped,” Mandi said. “He just started clapping and everybody just started crying. It was so emotional. It’s definitely rewarding. It’s nice to look in his eyes now and not have to worry that he’s ever gonna have to leave us again.” If that judge ever had any doubt as to whether or not this was a family fit to take that little boy home, I think that answered all of his questions.
It’s quite obvious that Hunter was just as excited to claim Mandi and Tyler as his parents as they were to call him their own. What started out as a journey to foster a little baby, turned into a fight to keep him in their family forever. Luckily, their fight may have been exhausting, but they were able to get the results that they were looking for.
Hunter is more than just a little boy to them, he is a miracle in so many ways. “We’ve learned that there’s a rainbow at the end of every storm and we’re so thankful we kept the fight,” Mandi said. “He is our world and our reason to keep fighting these battles. My husband said that there is no medication to help his PTSD quite like having his son take our last name.”
It must have been a beautiful sight to see this family come together. Their loved poured into everything that they did when it came to Hunter. And finally, all of their hard work and persistence paid off.
Love has the ability to change anyone and anything. Before Hunter came along, Mandi and Tyler were both fighting their own battles. Two people, who once felt hopeless in their own lives, were able to bring themselves up and love a child unconditionally.
She added that on adoption day, it was almost like a ton of bricks just came off their chest knowing that he’s never leaving them. “He’ll always be safe and loved with us. So that in itself is rewarding,” she said. “Our hearts are forever changed because we now know a true and genuine love. We know that he will forever be safe with us and most importantly will always know what love is. We have learned that family isn’t about DNA. It’s about love!” And they have shared their story in order to shed a light on other children in need of a family.
After classes, background checks, home checks, going to court, and waiting day after day, Mandi and Tyler were finally able to say that Hunter is their son for the rest of their lives. So now that they’ve found their happily ever after, what’s in store for this amazing family?
Mandi and Tyler have become fierce advocates of adoption and fostering. “Being a foster parent isn’t easy by any means, but it’s SOOOO worth it when you see the joy in the children’s eyes when they actually feel safety, validations, comfort, and love,” Mandi wrote on Facebook in commemoration of Foster Care Awareness Month. “These children are worth not giving up on. They are innocent and deserve all of us to help put their broken pieces back together.”
You see, even though Mandi and Tyler weren’t able to biologically have children of their own, they were able to love a child as their own. Thanks to this compassionate couple, Hunter can now spend the rest of his life in a loving home with parents who adore him. Thanks to them, Hunter is able to have the life that every child deserves.
Hundreds of thousands of people aren’t able to conceive a child of their own. If you’re in this situation, but you know within your heart that you were meant to be a parent, consider fostering or adopting a child. There are too many children in this world who don’t have parents and you could be the very person who changes one of their lives forever.